Rose chafers, sometimes called flower chafers or flower beetles,(1,2) are a group of about 3600-3900 scarab beetle species(1,2,3) that live practically all over the world,(1,4) though with the highest diversity in tropical forests.(1) These beetles are known for their striking colors, often bright with a glittering, metallic appearance,(3,4) and have a huge size range, from the massive Goliath beetle (at over 11 centimeters in length, one of the world’s largest beetles) to the tiny beetles of the subfamily Valginae which are no more than a few millimeters long.(3) In addition to their overall diversity, rose chafers have a very high degree of endemism, meaning that types found in one place are found nowhere else; this is the case for about 90% of rose chafer genera.(1) Despite their widely-varying appearance, the vast majority of rose chafers (specifically all those in the very large subfamily Cetoniinae) share a feature called a posthumeral elytral emargination.(1,3) This is a change in the structure of the elytra (the hard, strong forewings that protect the more delicate alae, or hind wings, when the alae are folded (5,6)) which allows the alae to poke out and unfold without the elytra opening all the way.(1,5,6) This adaptation enables most rose chafers to fly particularly fast.(1) Various kinds of rose chafers have a large number of other special adaptations as well. For example, while most adult rose chafers feed on pollen, nectar, plant sap, and fruits,(1,2,3,7) some have adapted to prey on ant larvae,(3) while some rose chafer larvae live with insects(3) or even vertebrates such as birds of prey and feed on the material that collects in their nests.(8) Some rose chafers serve as pollinators(4,9) and so they are sometimes beneficial to plants, but several members of this beetle group are noted pests of flowers(1) such as roses(6) and fruit crops(1,4) such as peaches.(7)
- 1. Krikken, J. A New Key to the Suprageneric Taxa in the Beetle Family Cetoniidae, with Annotated Lists of the Known Genera. Leiden: Zoologische Verhandelingen 210, 1984.
- 2. Yiu, Vor. “Records of Rose Chafers (Coleoptera: Cetoniinae) in Hong Kong.” Hong Kong Entomological Bulletin 2.1 (2010): 32-42.
- 3. Micó, Estefania, Miguel Ángel Morón, Petr Šípek, and Eduardo Galante. “Larval Morphology Enhances Phylogenetic Reconstruction in Cetoniidae (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea) and Allows the Interpretation of the Evolution of Larval Feeding Habits.” Systematic Entomology 33.1 (2008): 128-144.
- 4. “Flower Chafer.” Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2011. 7 Jul. 2011. http://www.britannica.com.proxy.uchicago.edu/EBchecked/topic/211115/flower-chafer
- 5. Benisch, Christoph. “Beetle Morphology.” Kerbtier.de. 2007. 7 Jul. 2011. http://www.kerbtier.de/Pages/Themenseiten/enKoerperbau.html
- 6. Hersch, M. I., H.R Hepburn, and B.W Skews. “Some Tethered Flight Characteristics of a Rose Chafer Beetle, Pachynoda sinuata (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae).” Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology 65.4 (1980): 505-508.
- 7. Ražov, Josip, Božena Barić, and Moreno Dutto. “Fauna of the Cetoniid Beetles (Coleoptera: Cetoniidae) and Their Damages on Peach Fruits in Orchards of Northern Dalmatia, Croatia.” Entomologica Croatica 13.2 (2009): 7-20.
- 8. Choi, Chang-Yong, Hyun-Young Nam, Woo-Shin Lee, and Chan-Ryul Park. “Prevalence of Anthracophora rusticola (Coleoptera: Cetoniidae) in Nests of the Chinese Goshawk (Accipiter soloensis).” Journal of Raptor Research 42.4 (2008): 302-303.
- 9. Peter, C. J. and S. D. Johnson. “Pollination by Flower Chafer Beetles in Eulophia ensata and Eulophia welwitschii (Orchidaceae).” South African Journal of Botany 75.4 (2009): 762-770.
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